Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round, three-pin plugs and round, two-pin plugs are standard.
South Africa's currency is the Rand (ZAR), which is divided into
100 cents. Money can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change, and
the larger hotels. ATMs are widely available and major
international credit cards are widely accepted. Visitors should be
vigilant when drawing cash from ATMs, as con artists are known to
operate there. All commercial banks will exchange foreign
Currency Exchange Rates
Note: These currency exchange rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.Language:
|ZAR 1.00 =
South Africa has 11 official languages, including Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, Zulu, and Sotho. English is widely spoken.
Entry requirements for Americans:
United States nationals need a passport valid for at least 30
days beyond intended travel, but no visa is needed for stays of up
to 90 days, with extensions possible.
Entry requirements for UK nationals:
British nationals need a passport valid for 30 days beyond the
date of intended travel, but no visa is needed for stays of up to
90 days if passport is endorsed British Citizen or British Overseas
Territories Citizen. Those whose passports state British National
(Overseas) may stay up to 30 days without a visa.
Entry requirements for Canadians:
Canadian nationals need a passport valid for 30 days beyond the
date of intended travel, but no visa is needed for stays of up to
Entry requirements for Australians:
Australian nationals need a passport valid for 30 days beyond
the date of intended travel, but no visa is needed for stays of up
to 90 days.
Entry requirements for New Zealand nationals:
New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for 30 days
beyond intended travel. A visa is required.
Passports should be valid for at least 30 days beyond the period
of intended stay. An onward or return ticket is required, as is
evidence of sufficient funds. Note that visitors to South Africa
must have at least one blank (unstamped) visa page in their
passport, each time entry is sought; this page is in addition to
the endorsement/amendment pages at the back of the passport.
However, nationals of countries that require a visa before
travelling to South Africa, must have two blank pages in their
passport - one for issuing a visa prior to departure and one for
stamping at the port of entry when entering South Africa.
Immigration officials often apply different rules to those
stated by travel agents and official sources. The South African
Immigration Authorities do not accept loose leaf temporary travel
documents. Note that South Africa's immigration laws have changed
dramatically over the last two years, and there may be some
confusion as to the correct procedure.
Travel Health: Health regulations in South Africa require that travellers from
areas infected by yellow fever must carry a vaccination
certificate; otherwise no vaccinations are required. There is a
malaria risk in the low-lying areas of the Northern Province and
Mpumalanga (including the Kruger National Park), as well as
northeastern KwaZulu-Natal, and precautions are advised when
travelling to these areas, especially between October and May.
Vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and
typhoid. There is a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.
Tap water is generally safe in urban areas but sterilisation is
advisable elsewhere, as there are periodic outbreaks of cholera in
the poor communities of rural South Africa, particularly in
northern KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo provinces.
Medical facilities in South Africa are good in urban areas, but
medical insurance is strongly advised as private hospitals expect
cash up front and public hospitals are best avoided. Medication is
readily available in urban areas, but those travelling outside of
major cities for an extended period should bring a basic supply kit
for emergency self-treatment.
Tipping: Tips of at least 10 percent are expected for good service if a
service charge is not included in the bill. Tipping for services
rendered is widely anticipated by porters, taxi drivers and petrol
attendants. Golf caddies should be tipped accordingly. 'Car guards'
operate in the city centres and tourist spots and will offer to
look after parked car; they are usually immigrants from
neighbouring countries looking for work and will expect anything
from R8 upwards on the driver's return, depending on how long the
driver will have been away.
Climate: Situated on the highveld plateau, Johannesburg has a subtropical
highland climate with generally mild weather and plenty of
sunshine. Between October and April (late spring, summer, and early
autumn) it is hot with frequent thunderstorms in the afternoon.
These dramatic storms are usually short-lived and shouldn't disrupt
a holiday too much. It is just best to plan outdoor activities for
the morning and midday when possible.
Between May and September (late autumn, winter and early spring)
it is dry and sunny with cold nights. The sunny winter weather
takes the edge off the cold, but after dark it can be freezing and
the city is often covered in a layer of frost early in the morning.
Snow is extremely rare. The average temperatures in summer, between
December and February, range between 58.5°F (14.7°C) and
78°F (25.6°C), and in winter, between June and August, the
average temperatures range between 39°F (4°C) and 62°F
Johannesburg is a year-round destination but the best time to
visit the city is over the festive season (December and January)
when it is hot and sunny and the afternoon storms ensure the city
is at its most lush and attractive. As an added bonus, the locals
tend to spend holidays on the coast making Johannesburg pleasantly
empty over the Christmas period. The winter months are also good
for travel, but the city gets very dry and is not as
Safety Information: Safety is an issue and visitors to South Africa should be aware
of the country's high crime rate. Violent crime tends to be
concentrated in pockets throughout the country and travellers
should do some research to find out which areas to avoid. For
instance, Berea and Hillbrow in Johannesburg are high-risk areas,
and township areas in general are dangerous for foreigners.
There is a risk of petty, opportunistic crime in all urban areas
and armed robberies are fairly common in Johannesburg. Travellers
should always be aware of these risks and exercise the necessary
precautions. Carjackings and smash-and-grab robberies are common in
major cities, and doors should be locked when driving and bags and
valuables should be kept out of sight. Travellers should not walk
alone at night in any area, and should be vigilant when using ATMs.
They should not display signs of wealth (e.g. mobile phones, money,
expensive jewellery, cameras) on the streets. Credit card fraud is
on the increase and travellers should be vigilant and never allow
their card out of their sight.
It is worthwhile noting that the South African authorities do
give high priority to the protection of tourists. Although crime
rates are high in South Africa, popular tourist sites and the main
hotel areas tend to be safe and most visits are trouble-free.
Local Customs: South African culture and etiquette in urban areas is very
Western. While standards of dress vary, beachwear should generally
not to be worn off the beach, and nude sunbathing is only
permissible in a few designated areas. Homosexuality is legal and
accepted in urban areas without much fuss, but it is frowned on by
some conservative South Africans and can be a problem in township
areas. Although locals may complain loudly about the country and
government, they will take offense if a foreigner is critical.
Racism is a sensitive issue; however, interracial relationships are
now common and widely accepted. South African racial terminology
differs from what is acceptable in North America: the terms 'black'
and 'white' are appropriate for those of African and Caucasian
descent, respectively. 'Coloured' refers not to black Africans, but
those of mixed African and European descent and is not considered
an offensive term. South Africans are friendly and hospitable, and
will often go out of their way to assist tourists who need
Business: Business practices in South Africa are influenced by South
Africa's range of ethnicities, languages and even geographical
areas, but in general follow common patterns. When doing business
in South Africa it is important to be culturally sensitive and as
understanding of colleagues' historical context as possible. Most
South Africans prefer to do business with contacts they've met
before, but they are also warm and open to newcomers. Working to
build and maintain business relationships is vitally important in
the South African business environment. South Africans are renowned
for their friendliness which generally supersedes business
Most large corporations, as well as the banking and financial
sector, still adopt relatively formal business practices, whereas
other companies and work environments enjoy more relaxed and
personable atmospheres. Clear management hierarchies and respect
for senior executives and colleagues are of paramount importance.
However, business exchanges and decision-making processes often
take on an egalitarian aspect. As with most countries, punctuality
is highly regarded. However, government officials are notorious for
their tardiness when it comes to keeping time. Dress codes tend to
be conservative, but not overly formal. Suits are the exception
more than the rule, but dressing stylishly will always count in
your favour. It is best to dress formally for initial meetings.
South Africans value hard work and respect those who succeed.
However, they are mindful of other aspects of life such as healthy
living, family and nurturing relationships - all of which add up to
a well-balanced life. Generally South Africans are regarded as
relaxed and informal with regards to introductions and the handling
of business cards. Shaking hands is common for both men and women.
The giving of gifts is uncommon and unnecessary. The official
language of business in South Africa is English. Business hours
tend to start at 8:30am or 9am and the day comes to a close at 5pm,
or later in the major urban centres. Working over weekends tends to
be quite rare in South Africa.
Communications: The international access code for South Africa is +27. Mobile
phone networks are available across the country, and there are
roaming agreements with most international mobile operators. Mobile
service providers offer very cheap 'pay-as-you-go' SIM cards, which
are a good option for visitors staying for some time. Wifi is
easily available, especially in the larger cities.
Duty free: Travellers to South Africa do not have to pay duty on 200
cigarettes, 20 cigars and 250g of tobacco; 2 litres wine and 1
litre spirits; perfume up to 50ml and 250ml eau de toilette; and
other goods to the value of R5,000. All other goods brought in from
abroad by South African residents must be declared on arrival.
These will be subject to import duties. For goods to be
re-imported, travellers must complete a DA65 or NEP-form that is
issued on departure. Prohibited items include meat and dairy
products, all medication except for personal consumption, flick
knives, ammunition, explosives and pornography containing minors